Dear Dr.Anil Jasinghe

It is with much sadness that I write this to you, all the more so because you are a doctor whose duty is to understand others, not treat people with contempt. A doctor needs to be compassionate and understanding. This is something we all accept as a fact.

But you don’t seem to have this trait, dear doctor and it has shown again and again. What is most saddening is your persistent disregard for the sensitivities of our Muslim community by insisting that our dead be cremated when all other countries accept burial, which you yourself can see every day on international news where the dead are shown buried in graves, not even five feet deep. Even the victims of Small pox, a disease much more virulent than what we face today are buried, and you being a medical professional with all the knowledge behind you, should know better than to persist with your meaningless arrogance so unbecoming of a medical man. To date, Sri Lanka remains the only country in the world to require mandatory cremation in spite of the wishes of the dying and their loved ones.

By doing this you are day by day earning the anger and curses of our community and boosting the racists who are gloating “At last we got to burn the Muslims” and going to town with it, raving and ranting all the way puffed up with all their arrogance. Can you even imagine how it hurts a Muslim when their loved ones are burnt when in our religion fire is the element of the hellfire to which the wicked go. Don’t you understand how important it is to give the dead a decent and dignified farewell. They are leaving you in this world and there is something called closure where you pay them your last respects and get back to your life. It is the final rites that help achieve this. Surely you should know that. Any good doctor would tell you.

This is not the first time that you have disregarded our religious rights. Only a couple of years ago, you issued a surprising circular preventing our medical professionals from performing female circumcision by falsely comparing it with FGM of the kind that happens in Africa. By doing this you hit a duty which in our religion is obligatory, and which was totally uncalled for. It was only meant to demean our community. Many were the Muslim organisations led by a very able and knowledgeable spokeswoman who went all the way to parliament to present our case using very convincing and logical arguments and requesting you in all kindness to withdraw the circular. But you did sweet nothing.

But now you have gone one further. You have not only trampled on the rights of our living, but have also scorned the rights of the dead, which everybody respects. You have given fuel and ammunition to those who hate us to gloat and boast and spew their venom all over, including in mass media. The bad blood you have created will live on and be alive in the hearts and minds of countless generations to come. And all because of your arrogance.

So dear doctor, do not impose your views on our community. Respect our religion just as we respect yours. As our holy book, the Qur’an clearly says “To You your Way, to Me Mine”. Surely this is something we all can respect.